Part 7 out of 8
the castle, and old Kleist, a little white-headed man, wrung his
hands, and seemed ready to go mad with fear; for half the
retainers were at the annual fair, others far away at the
coal-mines, and finally, they could scarcely muster in all ten
fighting men. Besides this, the castle fosse was filled with
rubbish, though the old man had been bidding his sons, for the
last year, to get it cleared, but they never minded him, the idle
knaves. All this troubled stout Dinnies mightily; and as he walked
up and down the hall, his eyes often rested on a painting which
represented the devil cutting off the head of a gambler, and
flying with it out of the window.
"Again and again he looked at the picture, then called out for a
hound, stuck him under his arm, and cut off his head, as if it had
been only a dove; then he called for a calf from the stall, put it
under his arm likewise, and cut off the head. Then he asked for
the mask which represented the devil, and which he had got from
Stettin to frighten his dissolute brothers, when they caroused too
late over their cups. The young Johann, indeed, had sometimes
dropped the wine-flask by reason of it, but Detloff still ran
after the young maidens as much as ever, though even he had got
such a fright that there was hope for his poor soul yet. So the
mask was brought, and all the proper disguise to play the
devil--namely, a yellow jerkin slashed with black, a red mantle,
and a large wooden horse's foot.
"When Dinnies beheld all this, and the man who played the devil
instructed him how to put them on, he rejoiced greatly, and
declared that now he alone could save the castle. I knew nothing
of all this at the time," said Johann, "nor of the treason,
neither did the band. We were all seated under a shed in the wood,
that had been built for the young deer in the winter time, and had
stuck a lantern against the wall while we gamed and drank, and our
provider poured us out large mugs of the best beer, when, just at
midnight, we heard a report like a clap of thunder outside, so
that the earth shook under us (it was no thunder-clap, however,
but an explosion of powder, which the traitor had laid down all
round the shed, for we found the trace of it next day).
"And as we all sprang up, in strode the devil himself bodily, with
his horse's foot and cocks' feathers, and a long calf's tail,
making the most horrible grimaces, and shaking his long hair at
us. Fire came out of his mouth and nostrils, and roaring like a
wild boar, he seized the little dwarf (whom you may remember,
Sidonia), tucked him under his arm like a cock--and just as he was
uttering a curse over his good game being interrupted--and cut his
head clean off; then, throwing the head at me, growled forth--
"'Every day one,
Only Sundays none"
and disappeared through the door like a flash of lightning,
carrying the headless trunk along with him.
"When my comrades heard that the devil was to carry off one of
them every day but Sunday, they all set up a screaming, like so
many rooks when a shot is fired in amongst them, and rushed out in
the night, seizing hold of horses or waggons, or whatever they
could lay their hands on, and rode away east and west, and west
and east, or north and south, as it may be.
"_Summa_.--When I came to my senses (for I had sunk down
insensible from horror, when the head of the dwarf was thrown at
me), I found that the said head had bit me by the arm, so that I
had to drag it away by force; then I looked about me, and every
knave had fled--even my waggon had been carried off, and not a
soul was left in the place of all these fine fellows, who had
sworn to be true to me till death.
"This base desertion nearly broke my heart, and I resolved to
change my course of life and go to some pious priest for
confession, telling him how the devil had first tempted me to sin,
and then punished me in this terrible manner (as, indeed, I well
"So next morning I took my way to the town, after observing, to my
great annoyance, that the castle could have been as easily taken
as a bird's nest; and seeing a beer-glass painted on a sign-board,
I guessed that here was the inn. Truth to say, my heart wanted
strengthening sorely, and I entered. There was a pretty wench
washing crabs in the kitchen, and as I made up to her, after my
manner, to have a little pastime, she drew back and said,
laughing, 'May the devil take you, as he took the others last
night in the barn!' upon which she laughed again so loud and long,
that I thought she would have fallen down, and could not utter a
word more for laughing.
"This seemed a strange thing to me, for I had never heard a
Christian man, much less a woman, laugh when the talk was of the
bodily Satan himself. So I asked what there was so pleasant in the
thought? whereupon she related what the young knight Dinnies
Kleist had done to save his castle from the robbers. I would not
believe her, but while I sat myself down on a bench to drink, the
host comes in and confirmed her story. _Summa_, I let the
conversion lie over for a time yet, and set about looking for my
comrades, but not finding one, I fell into despair, and resolved
to get into Poland, and take service in the army there--especially
as all my money had vanished."
Here the old parson said that Sidonia cried out, "How now, sir
knave, you are going to buy castle and lands forsooth, and have no
money? Truly the base villain is deceiving me yet again."
But my knave answered, "Alas! woe that thou shouldst think so
hardly of me! Have I not told thee that my father is going to give
me my heritage? So listen further what I tell thee:--In Poland I
met with Konnemann and Stephen Pruski, who had one of my waggons
with them, in which all my gold was hid, and when I threatened to
complain to the authorities, the cowards let me have my own
property again, on condition that I would take them into my
service, when I went to live at my own castle. This I promised;
therefore they are here with me, as you see. And Konnemann went
lately to my father at my request, and brought me back the joyful
intelligence that he would assign me over my portion of his goods
So far the Pastor Rehewinkelensis heard. What follows concerning
the wicked knave was related by his own sorrowing father to my
worthy father-in-law, along with other pious priests, and from him
I had the story when I visited him at Marienfliess.
For what was my knave's next act? When he returned to the town,
and heard from his comrades that the coachman of Saatzig was
snoring away there in the stable with open mouth, he stuffed in
some hay to prevent him screaming, and tied him hands and feet,
then drew his horses out of the stall, yoked them to the carriage,
and drove it himself a little piece out of the town down into the
hollow, then went back for Sidonia, telling her that her stupid
coachman had made some mistake and driven off without her, but he
had put all her baggage on his own carriage, which was now quite
ready, if she would walk with him a little way just outside the
town. Hereupon she paid the reckoning, mine host troubling himself
little about the affair of the waggon, and they set off on foot.
When they reached the carriage, Sidonia asked if all her baggage
were really there, for she could not see in the darkness. And when
she felt, and reckoned all her bundles and trunks, and found all
right, my knave said, "Now, she saw herself that he meant truly by
her. Here was even a nice place made in the straw sack for her,
where he had sat down first himself, that she might have an easy
seat. _Item_, she now saw his own carriage which he had
fished up in Poland and kept till now, that he might travel in it
to Bruchhausen to receive his heritage, and he was going there
this very night. She saw that he had lied in nothing."
Whereupon Sidonia got into the carriage with him, never
discovering his knavery on account of the darkness, and about
midnight they reached the inn at Bruchhausen.
_How a new leaf is turned over at Bruchhausen in a very fearful
manner--Old Appelmann takes his worthless son prisoner, and
admonishes him to repentance--Of Johann's wonderful conversion,
and execution next morning in the churchyard, Sidonia being
My knave halted a little way before they reached the inn, for he
had his suspicions that all was not quite right, and sent on the
forenamed Pruski to ascertain whether the money was really come
for him. For there was a bright light in the tap-room, and the
sound of many voices, which was strange, seeing that it was late
enough for every one to be in bed. Pruski was back again
soon--yes, it was all right. There were men in there from
Stargard, who said they had brought gold for the young
Marry! how my knave jumped down from the carriage, and brought
Sidonia along with him, bidding Pruski to stay and watch the
things. But, behold, as my knave entered, six men seized him,
bound him firmly, and bid him sit down quietly on a bench by the
table, till his father arrived. So he cursed and swore, but this
was no help to him; and when Sidonia saw that she had been
deceived again, she tried to slip out and get to the carriage, but
the men stopped her, saying, unless she wished a pair of handcuffs
on, she had better sit down quietly on another bench opposite
Johann. And she asked in vain what all this meant. _Item_, my
knave asked in vain, but no one answered them.
They had not long been waiting, when a carriage stopped before the
door, more voices were heard, and, alas! who should enter but the
old burgomaster himself, with Mag. Vito, Diaconus of St. John's.
And after them came the executioner, with six assistants bearing a
My knave now turned as white as a corpse, and trembled like an
aspen leaf; no word could he utter, but fell with his back against
the wall. Then a dead silence reigned throughout the chamber, and
Sidonia looked as white as her paramour.
When the assistants had placed the coffin on the ground, the old
father advanced to the table, and spake thus--"Oh, thou fallen and
godless child! thou thrice lost son! how often have I sought to
turn thee from evil, and trusted in thy promises; but in place of
better, thou hast grown worse, and wickedness has increased in
thee day by day, as poison in the young viper. On thy infamous
hands lie so many robberies, murders, and seductions, that they
cannot be reckoned. I speak not of past years, for then truly the
night would not be long enough to count them; I speak only of thy
last deeds in Poland, as old Elias von Wedel related them to me
yesterday in Stargard. Deny, if thou darest, here in the face of
thy death and thy coffin, how thou didst join thyself to the
Lansquenets in Poland, and then along with two vile fellows got
entrance into Lembrowo, telling the old castellan, Elias von
Wedel, that thou wast a labourer, upon which he took thee into his
service. But at night thou (O wicked son!) didst rise up and beat
the old Elias almost unto death, demanding all his money, which,
when he refused, thou and thy robber villains seized his cattle
and his horses, and drove them away with thee. _Item_, canst
thou deny that on meeting the same old Elias at Norenberg by the
hunt in the forest, thou didst mock him, and ask, would he sell
his castle of Lembrowo in Poland, for thou wouldst buy it of him,
seeing thy father had promised thee plenty of gold?
"_Item_, canst thou deny having written me a threatening
letter, declaring that if by this very night a hundred dollars
were not sent to thee here at Bruchhausen, a red beacon should
rise up from my sheepfolds and barns, which meant nothing else
than that thou wouldst burn the whole good town of Stargard, for
thou knowest well that all the sheepfolds and barns of the
burghers adjoin one to the other? Canst thou deny this, O thou
lost son? If so, deny it now."
Here Johann began again with his old knavery. He wept, and threw
himself on the ground, crawling under the table to get to his
father's feet, then howled forth, that he repented of his sins,
and would lead a better life truly for the future, if his hard,
stern father would only forgive him now.
But Sidonia screamed aloud, and as the burgomaster in his sorrow
had not observed her before, he turned his eyes now on her, and
exclaimed, "Woe, alas! thou godless son, hast thou this noble
maiden with thee yet? I thought she was at Saatzig; or perchance
thou hast made her thy wife?"
_Ille_.--"Alas, no; but he would marry her soon, to make
amends for the wrong he had done her."
_Hic_.--"This thou hast ten times promised, but in vain, and
thy sins have increased a hundredfold; because, like all
profligates, thou hast shunned the holy estate of matrimony, and
preferred to wallow in the mire of unchastity, with any one who
fell in the way of thy adulterous and licentious eyes."
_Ille_.--"Alas! his heart's dearest father was right; but he
would amend his evil life; and, in proof of it, let the reverend
deacon, M. Vitus, here present, wed him now instantly to Sidonia."
_Hic_.--"It is too late. I counsel thee rather to wed thy
poor soul to the holy Saviour, like the repentant thief on the
cross. See--here is a priest, and there is a coffin."
Here the executioner broke in upon the old, deeply afflicted
father, telling him the coffin was too short, as, indeed, his
worship had told him, but he would not believe the young man was
so tall. Where could he put the head? It must be stuck between his
feet, or under his arm, cried out another. So some proposed one
thing and some another, till a great uproar arose.
Upon which the old mourning father cried out--"Do you want to
break my heart? Is there not time enough to talk of this after?"
Then he turned again to his profligate son, and asked him--
"Would he not repent, and take the holy body and blood of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, as a passport with him on this long
journey? If so, let him go into the little room and pray with the
priest, and repent of his sins; there was yet time."
_Ille_.--"Alas, he had repented already. What had he ever
done so wicked that his own bodily father should thirst after his
blood? The courts were all closed, and law or justice could no man
have in all Pomerania. What wonder then if club-law and the right
of the strongest should obtain in all places, as in the olden
_Hic_.--"That law and justice had ceased in the land was,
alas! but too true. However, he was not to answer for this, but
his princely Grace of Stettin. And because they had ceased in the
land, was he, as an upright magistrate, called upon to do his duty
yet more sternly, even though the criminal were his own born son.
For the Lord, the just Judge, the Almighty and jealous God, called
to him daily, from His holy Word--'Ye shall not respect persons in
judgment, nor be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is
God's.' [Footnote: Deut. i. 17.] Woe to the land's Prince who had
not considered this, but compelled him, the miserable judge, to
steep his father's hands in the blood of his own son. But
righteous Abraham conquered through faith, because he was obedient
unto God, and bound his own innocent son upon the altar, and drew
forth his knife to slay him. Therefore he, too, would conquer
through faith, if he bound his _guilty_ son, and drew out the
sword against him, obedient to the words of the Lord. Therefore
let him prepare himself for death, and follow the priest into the
adjoining little chamber."
When Johann found that his father could in no wise be softened, he
began horribly to curse him and the hour of his birth, so that the
hair of all who heard him stood on end. And he called the devil to
help him, and adjured him to come and carry away this fierce and
unnatural father, who was more bloodthirsty than the wild beasts
of the forest--for who had ever heard that they murdered their own
"Come, devil," he screamed; "come, devil, and tear this
bloodthirsty monster of a father to pieces before my eyes, so will
I give myself to thee, body and soul! Hearest thou, Satan! Come
and destroy my father, and all who have here come out to murder
me, only leave me a little while longer in this life to do thy
service, and then I am thine for eternity!"
Now all eyes were turned in fear and horror to the door, but no
Satan entered, for the just God would not permit it, else,
methinks, he would have run to catch such a morsel for his supper.
However, the old man trembled, and seemed dwindling away into
nothing before the eyes of the bystanders as his son uttered the
curse. But he soon recovered, and laying his quivering hands upon
the head of the imprecator, broke forth into loud weeping, while
he prayed thus--
"O Thou just and Almighty God, who bringest the devices of the
wicked to nought, close Thine ears against this horrible curse of
my false son; remember Thine own word--'Into an evil soul wisdom
cannot enter, nor dwell in a body subject unto sin.' [Footnote:
Wisdom i. 4.] Thou alone canst make the sinful soul wise, and the
body of sin a temple of the Holy Ghost. O Lord Jesus Christ, hast
Thou no drop of living water, no crumb of strengthening manna for
this sinful and foolish soul? Hast Thou no glance of Thy holy eyes
for this denying Peter, that he may go forth and weep bitterly?
Hast Thou no word to strike the heart of this dying thief--of this
lost son, who, here bound for death, has cursed his own father,
and given himself up, body and soul, to the enemy of mankind? O
blessed Spirit, who comest and goest as the wind, enter the
heavenly temple, which is yet the work of Thy hands, and make it,
by Thy presence, a temple of the Most High! O Lord God, dwell
there but one moment, that so in his death-anguish he may feel the
sweetness of Thy presence, and the heaven-high comfort of Thy
promise! O Thou Holy Trinity, who hast kept my steps from falling,
through so much care and trouble, through so much shame and
disgrace, through so much watching and tears, and even now through
these terrible curses of my son, come and say Amen to this my last
blessing, which I, poor father, give him for his curse.
"Yes, Johann; the Lord bless thee and keep thee in the death hour.
The Lord shed his grace on thee, and give thee peace in thy last
"Yes, Johann; the Lord bless thee and keep thee, and give thee
peace upon earth, and peace above the earth! Amen, amen, amen!"
When the trembling old man had so prayed, many wept aloud, and his
son trembled likewise, and followed the priest, silently and
humbly, into the neighbouring chamber.
Then the old man turned to Sidonia, and asked why she had left her
worthy cousin Marcus of Saatzig?
Upon which she told him, weeping, how his son had deceived her, in
order to get her once more into his power, in order that he might
rob her, and all she wanted now was to be let go her way in peace
to her farm-houses in Zachow.
But this the old man refused.
"No; this must not be yet. She was as evil-minded as his own son,
and needed an example to warn her from sin. Not a step should she
move till his head was off."
And, for this purpose, he bid two burghers seize hold of her by
the hands, and carry her to the scaffold when the execution was
going to take place. The grave must be nearly ready now, which he
bade them dig in a corner of the churchyard close by, and he had
ordered a car-load of sand likewise to be laid down there, for the
execution should take place in the churchyard.
Meanwhile the poor criminal has come out of the inner chamber with
M. Vitus, and going up to the bench where the poor father had sunk
down exhausted by emotion, he flings himself at his feet,
exclaiming, with the prodigal son in the parable--
"Father, I have sinned before heaven and in thy sight, and am no
more worthy to be called thy son."
Then he kissed his feet, and bedewed them with his tears.
Now the father thought this was all pretence, as formerly, so he
gave no answer. Upon which the poor sinner rose up, and reached
his hand to each one in the chamber, praying their forgiveness for
all the evil he had done, but which he was now going to expiate in
his blood. _Item,_ he advanced to Sidonia, sighing--
"Would not she too forgive him, for the love of God? Woe, alas!
She had more to forgive than any one; but would not she give him
her pardon, for some comfort on this last journey; and so would he
bear her remembrance before the throne of God?"
But Sidonia pushed away his hand.
"He should be ashamed of such old-womanish weakness. Did he not
see that his father was only trying to frighten him? For were he
in earnest, then were he more cruel even than her own unnatural
father, who, though he had only left her two cabins in Zachow, out
of all his great riches, yet had left her, at least, her poor
Hereupon the poor sinner made answer--
"Not so; I know my father; he is not cruel; what he does is right;
therefore I willingly die, trusting in my blessed Saviour, whose
body will sanctify my body in the grave. For had I committed no
other sin, yet the curse I uttered just now is alone sufficient to
make me worthy of death, as it is written--'He that curseth father
or mother shall surely be put to death.'" [Footnote: Exodus xxi.
When the old man heard such-like words, he resolved to put his
son's sincerity to the test, for truly it seemed to him impossible
that the Almighty God should so suddenly make the crooked
straight, and the dead to live, and a child of heaven out of a
child of hell. So he spake--
"Thy repentance seemeth good unto me, my son, what sayest thou?
will it last, think you, if I now bestow thy life on thee?"
Hereat Sidonia laughed aloud, exclaiming--
"Said I not right? It was all a jest of thy dear father's." But
the poor sinner would not turn again to his wallowing in the mire.
He sat down upon a bench, covering his face with his hands, and
sobbed aloud. At last he answered--
"Alas! father, life is sweet and death is bitter; but since the
Holy Spirit hath entered into me with the body of our Lord, I say,
death is sweet and life is bitter. No; off with my head! 'I find a
law in my members warring against the law of my spirit, and making
me a prisoner under the law of sin;' [Footnote: Romans vii. 23.]
for if I see my neighbour rich and I am poor, then the demon of
covetousness rises in me, and my fingers itch to seize my share.
Or, if the foaming flask is before me, how can I resist to drain
it, for the spirit of gluttony is within me? Or, if I see a
maiden, the blood throbs in my veins, and the demon of lust has
taken possession of me. 'Oh, wretched man that I am, who will
deliver me from the body of this death?' You will, dearest father.
You will release me from this life, as you once gave it to me, for
it is now a life in death. Ah! show mercy! Come quickly, and
release me from the body of this death!"
When he ceased, the old man sprung up like a youth, and pressing
his lost son to his heart, sobbed forth like him of the Gospel--
"O friends, see! 'This my son was dead, but is alive again; he was
lost, and is found.' Yea, yea, see all that nothing is impossible
with God. O Thou Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now I
have nothing more to ask, but that I too may soon be released from
the body of this death, and go forth to meet my new-found son
amidst the bright circle of the Holy Angels."
Then the son answered--
"Let me go now, father. See, the morning dawn shines already
through the window; so hath the loving mercy of my God come to me,
who sat in darkness and the shadow of death. Farewell, father; let
me go now. Away with this head in the clear early morning light,
so that my feet be fixed for evermore upon the path to peace."
And so speaking, he seized M. Vitus by the hand, who was sobbing
loudly, as well as most of the burghers, and the executioner with
his assistants bearing the coffin were going to follow, when the
old man, who had sunk down upon a bench, called back his son,
though he had already gone out at the door, and prayed the
executioner to let him stay one little while longer. For he
remembered that his son had a welt upon his neck, and he must see
whether it would interfere with the sword. Woe, woe! if he should
have to strike twice or thrice before the head fell!
So the executioner removed the neck-cloth from the poor sinner
(who, by the great mercy of God, was stronger than any of them),
and having felt the welt, said--
"No; the welt was close up to the head, but he would take the neck
in the middle, as indeed was his usual custom. His worship may
make his mind quite easy; he would stake his life on it that the
head would fall with the first blow. This was his one hundred and
fiftieth, and he never yet had failed."
Then the unhappy criminal tied his cravat on again, took M. Vitus
by the hand, and said--
"Farewell, my father; once more forgive me for all that I have
After which he went out quickly, without waiting to hear a word
more from his father, and the executioner followed him.
Meanwhile the afflicted father was sore troubled in mind. Three
times he repeated the text--"Ye shall not respect persons in
judgment, nor be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is
God's." Then he called upon God to forgive the Prince who, by
taking away law and justice from the land, had obliged him to be
the judge and condemner of his son. How the Lord dealt with the
Prince we shall hear farther on. One while he sent mine host to
look over the hedge, and tell him if the head were off yet. Then
he would begin to pray that he might soon follow this poor son,
who had never given him one moment of joy but through his death,
and pass quickly after him through the vale of tears.
The son, however, is steadfast unto the end. For when they reached
the churchyard, he stood still a while gazing on the heap of sand.
Then he desired to be led to the spot where his grave was dug; and
near this same grave there being a tombstone, on which was figured
a man kneeling before a crucifix, he asked--
"Who was to share his grave bed here?"
Whereupon M. Vitus replied--
"He was a _rector scholæ_ out of Stargard, a very learned
man, who had retired from active life, and settled down here at
Bruchhausen, where he died not long since."
Whereat the poor sinner stood still a while, and then repeated
this beautiful distich, no doubt by the inspiration of the Holy
Ghost, to warn all learned sinners against that demon of pride and
vain-glory which too often takes possession of them.
"Quid juvat innumeros scire atque evolvere casus
Si facieuda fugis et fugienda facis?"
["What is the use of knowledge and all our infinite learning,
If we fly what is right and do what we ought to fly?"]
Then he looked calmly at his grave, and only prayed the
executioner not to put his head between his feet; after which he
returned to the sand-heap and exclaimed--
"Now to God!"
Upon which, M. Vitus blessed him yet again, and spake--
"O God, Father, who hast brought back this lost son, and filled
this foolish soul with wisdom; ah! Jesus, Saviour, who, in truth,
hast turned Thy holy eyes on him as on the denying Peter and on
the dying thief. O Holy Spirit, who hast not scorned to make this
poor vessel a temple for Thyself to dwell in, that in the
death-anguish this sinner may find the sweetness of Thy presence
and the heaven-high comfort of Thy promises! O Thou Holy
Trinity--to Thee--to Thee--to Thee--to Thy grace, Thy power, Thy
protection, we resign this dying mortal in his last agonies. Help
him, Lord God! _Kyrle Eleison!_ Give Thy holy angels command
to bear this poor soul into Abraham's bosom. O come, Lord Jesus;
help him, O Lord our God. _Kyrie Eleison!_ Amen."
And hereupon he pronounced a last blessing over him. And when the
executioner took off his upper garment and bound the kerchief over
his eyes, M. Vitus again spake--
"Think on the holy martyrs, of whom Basilius Magnus testifies that
they exclaimed, when undressing for their death--_Non vestes
exuimus, sed veterem hommem deponimus." [Footnote: "We lay not off
our clothes, but the old man."--Basil the Great, Archbishop of
Caesarea, A.D. 379.]
Upon which he answered from under the kerchief something in Latin,
but the executioner had laid the cloth so thickly even over his
mouth and chin, that no one could catch the words. Then he kneeled
down, and while the executioner drew his sword, M. Vitus chanted--
"When my lips no more can speak,
May Thy Spirit in me cry;
When my eyes are faint and weak,
May my soul see Heaven nigh!
When my heart is sore dismayed,
This dying frame has lost its strength,
May my spirit, with Thy aid,
Cry--Jesu, take me home at length!"
And all who stood round saw, as it were, a wonderful sign from
God; for as the executioner let the sword fall, head and sun
appeared at the same moment--the head upon the earth, the sun
above the earth; and there was a deep silence. Sidonia alone
laughed out loud, and cried, "So ends the conversion!" And while
the psalm was singing, "Now, pray we to the Holy Ghost," the
executioner acting as clerk, she disappeared, and for thirty
years, as we shall hear presently, no one could ascertain where
she went to or how she lived; though sometimes, like a horrible
ghost, she was seen occasionally here and there.
_Summa_.--The miserable criminal was laid in his coffin, and
as, in truth, it was too short for the corpse, and the poor sinner
had requested that his head might not be placed between his feet,
so it was laid upon his chest, with his hands folded over it, and
thus he was buried.
The old father rejoiced greatly that his son remained steadfast in
the truth until the last, and thanked God for it. Then he returned
to Stargard; and I may just mention, to conclude concerning him,
that the merciful God heard the prayer of this His faithful
servant, for he scarcely survived his son a year, but, after a
short illness, fell asleep in Jesus. [Footnote: For further
particulars concerning this truly worthy man, who may well be
called the Pomeranian Manlius, see Friedeborn, "Description of Old
Stettin," vol. ii. p. 113; and Barthold, "Pomeranian History," pp.
_Of Sidonia's disappearance for thirty years--Item, how the
young Princess Elizabeth Magdelene was possessed by a devil, and
of the sudden death of her father, Ernest Ludovicus of
I have said that Sidonia disappeared after the execution at
Bruchhausen, and that for thirty years no one knew where she lived
or how she lived. At her farm-house at Zachow she never appeared;
but the _Acta Criminalia_ set forth that during that period
she wandered about the towns of Freienwald, Regenwald, Stargard,
and other places, in company with Peter Konnemann and divers other
However, the ducal prosecutor, although he instituted the
strictest inquiries at the period of her trial, could ascertain
nothing beyond this, except that, in consequence of her evil
habits and licentious tongue, she was held everywhere in fear and
abhorrence, and was chased away from every place she entered after
about six or eight o'clock. Further, that some misfortune always
fell upon every one who had dealings with her, particularly young
married people. To the said Konnemann, she betrothed herself after
the death of her first paramour, but afterwards gave him fifty
florins to get rid of the contract, as she confessed at the
seventeenth question upon the rack, according to the _Actis
Lothmanni_. Meantime her brother and cousins were so completely
turned against her, that her brother even took those two
farm-houses to himself; and though Sidonia wrote to him, begging
that an annuity might be settled on her, yet she never received a
line in answer--and this was the manner in which the whole
cousinhood treated her in her despair and poverty.
I myself made many inquiries as to her mode of life during those
thirty years, but in vain. Some said that she went into Poland and
there kept a little tavern for twenty years; some had seen her
living at Riigen at the old wall, where in heathen times the
goddess Hertha was honoured. Some said she went to Riiden, a
little uninhabited island between Riigen and Usdom, where the wild
geese and other birds flock in the moulting season and drop their
feathers. Thence, they said, she gathered the eggs, and killed the
birds with clubs. At least this was the story of the Usdom
fishermen, but whether it were Sidonia or some other outcast
woman, I cannot in strict verity declare. Only in Freienwald did I
hear for certain that she lived there twelve years with some earl
whom she called her shield-knight; but one day they quarrelled,
and beat each other till the blood flowed, after which they both
ran out of the town, and went different ways.
_Summa._--On the 1st of May 1592, when the witches gather in
the Brocken to hold their Walpurgis night, and the princely castle
of Wolgast was well guarded from the evil one by white and black
crosses placed on every door, an old wrinkled hag was seen about
eight o'clock of the morning (just the time she had returned from
the Blocksberg, according to my thinking), walking slowly up and
down the great corridor of the princely castle. And the providence
of the great God so willed it that at that moment the young and
beautiful Princess Elizabeth Magdalena (who had been betrothed to
the Duke Frederick of Courland) opened her chamber-door and
slipped forth to pay her morning greetings to her illustrious
father, Duke Ernest, and his spouse, the Lady Sophia Hedwig of
Brunswick, who sat together drinking their warm beer, [Footnote:
Before the introduction of coffee or chocolate, warm beer was in
general use at breakfast] and had sent for her.
So the hag advanced with much friendliness and cried out, "Hey,
what a beautiful young damsel! But her lord papa was called 'the
handsome' in his time, and wasn't she as like him as one egg to
another. Might she take her ladyship's little hand and kiss it?"
Now as the hag was bold in her bearing, and the young Princess was
a timid thing, she feared to refuse; so she reached forth her
hand, alas! to the witch, who first three times blew on it,
murmuring some words before she kissed it; then as the young
Princess asked her who she was and what she wanted, the evil hag
answered, "I would speak with your gracious father, for I have
known him well. Ask his princely Grace to come to me, for I have
somewhat to say to him." Now the Princess, in her simplicity,
omitted to ask the hag's name, whereby much evil came to pass, for
had she told her gracious father that SIDONIA wished to speak to
him, assuredly he never would have come forth, and that fatal and
malignant glance of the witch would not have fallen upon him.
However, his Serene Grace, having a mild Christian nature, stepped
out into the corridor at the request of his dear daughter, and
asked the hag who she was and what she wanted. Upon this, she
fixed her eyes on him in silence for a long while, so that he
shuddered, and his blood seemed to turn to ice in his veins.
[Footnote: This belief in the witchcraft of a glance was very
general during the witch period. And even the ancients notice it
(Pliny, Hist. Nat. vii. 2), also Aul. Gell. Noct. Attic, ix. 4;
and Virgil, Eclog. in. 103. The glance of a woman with double
pupils was particularly feared.] At last she spake: "It is a
strange thing, truly, that your Grace should no longer remember
the maiden to whom you once promised marriage." At this his Grace
recoiled in horror, and exclaimed, "Ha, Sidonia! but how you are
changed." "Ah!" she answered, with a scornful laugh, "you may well
triumph, now that my cheek is hollow, and my beauty gone, and that
I have come to you for justice against my own brother in Stramehl,
who denies me even the means of subsistence--you, who brought me
to this pass."
Upon which his Grace answered that her brother was a subject of
the Duke of Stettin. Let her go then to Stettin, and demand
_Illa._--"She had been there, but the Duke refused to see
her, and to her request for a _proebenda_ in the convent of
Marienfliess had returned no answer. She prayed his Grace,
therefore, out of old good friendship, to take up her cause, and
use his influence with the Lord Duke of Stettin to obtain the
_proebenda_ for her, also to send a good scolding to her
brother at Stramehl under his own hand."
Now my gracious Prince was so anxious to get rid of her, that he
promised everything she asked. Whereupon she would kiss his hand,
but he drew it back shuddering, upon which she went down the great
castle steps again, murmuring to herself.
But her wickedness soon came to light; for mark--scarcely a few
days had passed over, when the beautiful young Princess was
possessed by Satan; she rolls herself upon the ground, twists and
writhes her hands and feet, speaks with a great coarse voice like
a common carl, blasphemes God and her parents; and what was more
wonderful than all, her throat swelled, and when they laid their
hand on it, something living seemed creeping up and down in it.
Then it went up to her mouth, and her tongue swelled so, that her
eyes seemed starting from their sockets, and the gracious young
lady became fearful to look at.
_Item,_ then she began to speak Latin, though she had never
learned this tongue, whereupon many, and in particular Mag.
Michael Aspius, the court chaplain (for Dr. Gerschovius was long
since dead) pronounced that Satan himself verily must be in the
maiden. [Footnote: The ancients name three distinguishing marks of
1st, When the patient blasphemes God and cannot repeat the leading
articles of his Christian belief.
2nd, When he foretells events which afterwards come to pass.
3rd, When he speaks in a strange tongue, which it can be proved he
Now the somnambulists of our day fulfil the second and third
conditions without dispute; and some account for the divining
power by saying it is the effect of the increased activity of the
soul. They also assert that the patient speaks in a strange tongue
only when the magnetiser with whom he is in _en rapport_
understands the tongue himself, and the patient speaks it because
all the thoughts, feelings, words, &c., of the operator become
his--in short, their souls become one. This explanation, however,
is very improbable, and has not been confirmed by facts; for the
phenomenon of speaking in a strange tongue often appears before a
perfect _rapport_ has been obtained between the patient and
the operator. Indeed, Psellus gives an instance to show that it is
not even at all necessary. (Psellus lived about the eleventh
century, and wrote _De Operatione Doemonum,_ also _De
Mysteriis AEgyptiorum,_ his works are very remarkable, and well
worth a perusal.) He states that a sick woman all at once began to
speak in a strange and barbarous tongue no one had ever heard
before. At last some of the women about her brought an Armenian
magician to see her, who instantly found that she spoke Armenian,
though she had never in her life beheld one of that nation.
Psellus describes him as an old lean wrinkled man. He acted quite
differently from our modern magnetisers, for he never sought to
place himself in sympathetic relation with her by passes or
touches; on the contrary, he drew his sword, and placing himself
beside the bed, began tittering the most harsh and cruel words he
could think of in the Armenian tongue _(acriter conviciatus
est)_. The woman retorted in the Armenian tongue likewise, and
tried to get out of bed to fight with him. Then the barbarian grew
as if mad, and endeavoured to stab her, upon which she shrunk back
terrified and trembling, and soon fell into a deep sleep. Psellus
seems to have witnessed this, for he says the woman was wife to
his eldest brother. As further regards demoniacal possession, the
New Testament is full of examples thereof; and though in the last
century the reality of the fact was assailed, yet Franz Meyer has
again defended it with arguments that cannot be overthrown.
Remarkable examples of possession in modern times we find in the
_Didiskalia,_ No. 81, of the year 1833, and in Berner's
"History of Satanic Possession," p. 20.] This was fully proved on
the following Sunday; for during divine service in the Church of
St. Peter, the young Princess was carried in on a litter and laid
down before the altar, whereupon she commenced uttering horrible
blasphemies, and mocking the holy prayer in a coarse bass voice,
while she foamed and raged so violently, that eight men could
scarcely hold her in her bed. Whereat the whole Christian
congregation were admonished to pray to the Lord for this poor
maiden, that she might be freed from the devil within her; and
during the week all priests throughout the land were commanded to
offer up prayers day and night for her princely Grace. But on
Sundays all the people were to unite in one common supplication to
the throne of grace for the like object.
And it seemed, after some weeks, as if God had heard their
prayers, and commanded Satan to leave the body of the young
maiden, for she had now rest for fourteen days, and was able to
pray again. Also her rosy cheeks began to bloom once more, so that
her parents were filled with joy, and resolved to hold a
thank-festival throughout the land, and receive the Holy Sacrament
in St. Peter's Church with their beloved daughter.
But what happened? For as the godly discourse had ended, and their
Graces stepped to the altar to make a rich offering on the plate
which lay upon the little desk, free of approach from all sides,
my knave Satan has again begun his work. Truly, he waited with
cunning till her Grace had swallowed the Sacrament, that his
blasphemies might seem more horrible. And this was the way he
After the court marshal and the castellan had laid down a black
velvet carpet, embroidered in gold with the Pomeranian and
Brandenburg arms, for their Graces to kneel upon, they took
another black velvet cloth, on which the Holy Supper was
represented embroidered in silver, to hold before their Graces
like a serviette, while they received the blessed elements. Then
advanced the priest with the Sacrament, but scarcely had the
gracious young Princess swallowed the same, when she uttered a
loud cry and fell backwards with her head upon the ground, while
Satan raged so in her that it might have melted the heart of a
So M. Aspius bade the organ cease, and then placed the young lady
upon a seat, after which he called upon their Graces and the whole
congregation to join him in offering up a prayer. Then he solemnly
adjured the evil spirit to come out of her; it, however, had grown
so daring that it only laughed at the priest; and when asked where
it had been for so long, and in particular where it had lain while
the Jesu bride was wedded to her Holy Saviour in the Blessed
Sacrament, it impatiently answered that it had lain under her
tongue; many knaves might lie under a bridge while an honourable
seigneur passed overhead, and why should not it do the like? And
here, to the unspeakable horror of the whole congregation, it
seemed to move up and down in the chest and throat of the young
Princess, like some animal.
But the long-suffering of God was now at an end, for while the
Reverend Dr. Aspius was talking himself weary with adjurations,
and gaining no good by it, for the evil spirit only mocked and
jeered him, crying, "Look at the fat parson how he sweats, maybe
it will help as much as his chattering over the wine," who should
enter the church (sent no doubt by the all-merciful God) but the
Reverend Dr. Joel, Professor at Grypswald, for he had heard how
this lusty Satan had taken possession of the princely maiden. When
the devil saw him, he began to tremble through all the limbs of
the young Princess, and exclaimed in Latin, _"Consummatum
est."_ [Footnote: "It is over."] For this Dr. Joel was a
powerful man, and learned in all the cunning shifts of the
arch-enemy, having many times disputed de Magis. [Footnote: Of
Witchcraft; see Barthold, iv. 2, 412.]
Now when he advanced to the young Princess, and saw how the evil
spirit ran up and down her poor form, like a mouse in a net, he
was filled with horror, and removing his hat, exclaimed, without
taking much heed of his Latin, _"Deus misereatur
peccatoris."_ Upon which the devil, in a deep bass voice,
corrected him, crying, _"Die peccatricls, die peccatricls."_
[Footnote: Peccatoris is masculine, Peccatricis feminine.]
However, Satan himself felt that his hour had come; for when
Doctor Joel laid his hand upon the maiden, and repeated a powerful
adjuration from the _Clavilcula Salomonis,_ Satan immediately
promised to obey if he were allowed to take away the
oblation-cloth which lay upon the desk.
_Ille._--"What did he want with the oblation-cloth?"
_Satanas._--"There was a coin in it which vexed him."
_Ille._--"What coin could it be, and wherefore did it vex
_Satanas._--"He would not say."
_Ille._--(Adjures him again.)
_Satanas._--"Let him have it, or he would tear the young
maiden to pieces." And here he began to foam and rage so horribly,
that her eyes turned in her head, and she gnashed with her teeth,
so that father and mother had to cover their eyes not to see her
great agony. Whereupon Doctor Joel bent down and wrote with his
finger upon her breast the Tetragrammaton, crying out-- [Footnote:
The four letters which compose the name Jehovah ( [Hebrew Text]).
It was employed by the Theurgists in all their most powerful
"Away, thou unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost!"
Upon which the young maiden sank down as quiet as a corpse, and
the oblation-cloth, which lay upon the desk, whirled round of
itself in the middle of the church with great noise and clatter,
as if seized by a storm-wind, and the money therein was all
scattered about the church, so that the old wives who sat upon the
benches fell down upon the floor, right and left, to try and catch
it. Great horror and amazement now filled the whole congregation;
yet as some had expressed an opinion that the young Princess was
only afflicted by a sickness, and not possessed at all, Doctor
Joel thought it needful to admonish them in the following words:--
"Those wise persons who, forsooth, would not credit such a thing
as Satanic possession, might see now of a truth, by the
oblation-cloth, that Satan bodily had been amongst them. He knew
there were many such wise knaves in the church; therefore let them
hold their tongue for evermore, and remember that such signs had
been permitted before of God, to testify of the real bodily
presence of the devil. Example (Matt. viii.), where, on the
command of Christ, a legion of devils went into the swine of the
Gergasenes; so that these animals, contrary to their nature, ran
down into the sea and were drowned. But the wise people of this
day little heed these divine signs; so he will add two from
historical records which he happened to remember.
"First, the Jew Josephus relates that, in presence of the
world-renowned Roman captain Vespasian, of his son Titus, also of
all the officers and troops of the army, an acquaintance of his,
by name Eleazer, adjured the devil out of one possessed by means
of the ring of Solomon, repeating at the same time the powerful
spell which, no doubt, the great king himself employed to control
the demons, and which, probably, was the very one he had just now
exorcised the devil with, out of the _Clavicula Salomonis._
And to show the bystanders that it was indeed a devil which he had
exorcised out of the nose of the patient, the said Eleazer bid
him, as he was passing, to overturn a vessel of water that lay
there, which indeed was done, to the great wonderment of all
present. Thus even the blind heathen were convinced, though the
would-be wise of the present day ignorantly doubted.
"But people might say this happened in old times, and was only
told by a stupid Jew; therefore he would give a modern example.
"There was a woman named Kronisha (she was still well remembered
by the old people of Stralsund), who was sorely given to pomp and
vanity, wherefore a devil was sent into her to punish her; and
after the preacher at St. Nicholas had exorcised him to the best
of his power, the wicked spirit said, mockingly, that he would go
if they gave him a pane of glass out of the window over the tower
door; and this being granted, one of the panes was instantly
scattered with a loud clang, and the devil flew away through the
opening. [Note: See Sastrowen, his family, birth, and adventures.
Edited by Mohnike, part i. 73.]
"So the Christian congregation might now see what silly fools
these wise people were who presumed to doubt," &c. Then Doctor
Joel admonished the Prince himself to keep a diligent eye over
this Satan, who, day by day, was growing more impudent in the
land--no doubt because the pure doctrine of Dr. Luther vexed him
And indeed his Highness, to show his gratitude for the recovery of
his dear daughter, did not cease in his endeavours to banish
witches from the land, knowing that Sidonia had brought all the
evil upon the young Princess. Fifteen were seized and burned at
this time, to the great joy of the country; but, alas! these truly
princely and Christian measures little helped among the godless
race, for evil seemed still to strengthen in the land, and many
wonderful signs appeared, one of which I would not set down here,
as it was only seen by the court-fool, but that events confirmed
I mean that strange thing, along with a three-legged hare, which
appeared eighty years before at the death of Duke Bogislaus the
Great, and since at the death of each Duke of his house. By a
strange whim of Satan's, this apparition was only visible to
fools; until indeed (as we shall hear anon) it appeared to the
nuns at Marienfliess, who bore witness of it.
_Summa._--On the very day wherein the devil's brides were
burned at Wolgast, the fool was walking at evening time up and
down the great corridor, when a little manikin, hardly three hands
high, started out from behind a beer-barrel, riding on a
three-legged hare. He was dressed all in black, except little red
boots which he had on, and he rides up and down the corridor--hop!
hop! hop!--stares at my fool and makes a face at him; then rides
off again--hop! hop! hop!--till he vanished behind the barrel.
No one would believe the fool's story; but woe, alas! it soon
became clear what the little manikin Puck denoted. For my gracious
Prince, who had grown quite weak ever since this horrible
witch-work, which had been raging for some weeks--so that
Pomerania never had seen the like--became daily worse, and not
even the fine Falernian wine from Italy, which used to cure him,
helped him now. So he died on the 17th July 1591, aged forty-six
years, seven months, and fifteen days, leaving his only son,
Philippus Julius, a child of eight years old, to reign in his
place. Whereupon the deeply afflicted widow placed the boy under
the tutelage and guardianship of his uncle, the princely Lord of
Stettin; but, woe! woe! the guardian must soon follow his dear
brother! and all through the evil wickedness of Sidonia, as we
shall hear in the following chapters.
_How Sidonia demeans herself at the Convent of
Marienfliess--Item, how their Princely and Electoral Graces of
Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg, went on sleighs to
Wolgast, and of the divers pastimes of the journey._
After this, Sidonia disappeared again for a couple of years, and
no man knew whither she had flown or what she did, until one
morning she appeared at the convent of Marienfliess, driving a
little one-horse waggon herself, and dressed no better than a
fish-wife. On driving into the court, she desired to speak with
the abbess, Magdalena von Petersdorf; and when she came, Sidonia
ordered the cell of the deceased nun, Barbara Kleist, to be got
ready for her reception, as his Highness of Stettin had presented
her to a _præbenda_ here.
So the pious old abbess believed the story, and forthwith
conducted her to the cell, No. 11; but Sidonia spat out at it,
said it was a pig-sty, and began to run clattering through all the
cells till she reached the refectory, a large chamber where the
nuns assembled for evening prayer. This, she said, was the only
spot fit for her to put her nose in, and she would keep it for
herself. Meanwhile, the whole sisterhood ran together to the
refectory to see Sidonia; and as most of them were girls under
twenty, they tittered and laughed, as young women-folk will do
when they behold a hag. This angered her.
"Ha!" she exclaimed, "the flesh and the devil have not been
destroyed in them yet, but I will soon give them something else to
think of than their lovers."
And here, as one of them laughed louder than the rest, Sidonia
gave her a blow on the mouth.
"Let that teach the peasant-girl more respect for a castle and
land dowered maiden."
When the good abbess saw and heard all this, she nearly fainted
with shame, and had to hold by a stool, or she would have fallen
to the ground. However she gained fresh courage, when, upon asking
for Sidonia's documents, she found that there were none to show.
Without more ado, therefore, she bade her leave the convent; and,
amidst the jeers and laughter of all the sisterhood, Sidonia was
obliged to mount her one-horse cart again, or the convent porter
had orders to force her out.
By this all may perceive that, in place of repenting, Sidonia had
fallen still further in the mire, wherein she wallowed yet for
many years, as if it were, indeed, her true and natural element,
like that beetle of which Albertus Magnus speaks, that died if one
covered it with rose-leaves, but came to life again when laid in
Hardly had she left the convent-gate when the old abbess bade a
carl get ready a carriage, and flew in it to Stettin herself, to
lay the whole case before my gracious Prince, and entreat him,
even on her knees, not to send such a notorious creature amongst
them; for what blessing could the convent hope to obtain if they
harboured such an infamous sinner? So his Grace wonders much over
the daring of the harlot; for he had given her no
_proebenda,_ though she was writing to him constantly
requesting one. Nor would he ever think of giving her one; for why
should he send such a hell-besom to sweep the pious convent of
Marienfliess? The good abbess might rise up, for as long as he
lived Sidonia should never enter the convent.
And his Grace held by his word, though it cost him his life, as I
shall just now relate with bitter sighs.
It happened that, A.D. 1600, there was a terribly hard winter, so
that the fresh Haff [Footnote: The river Haff] was quite frozen
over, and able to bear heavy beams. Now, as the ice was smooth and
beautiful as a mirror, my Lord of Stettin proposed to his
guests--Joachim Friedrich, Elector of Brandenburg, his
brother-in-law, and old Duke Ulrich of Mecklenburg, his uncle, to
go over the Haff in sleighs, and pay a visit to the princely widow
and her little son.
Their Graces were well pleased at the idea. Whereupon his Highness
of Stettin gave orders to have such a procession formed as never
had been seen in Pomerania before for magnificence and beauty, and
therefore I shall note down some particulars here.
There were a hundred sleighs, some drawn by reindeer caparisoned
like horses, and all decorated gaily. The three ducal sleighs in
particular were entirely girded and lined with sable skin; each
was drawn by four Andalusian horses; and my Lady Erdmuth, who was
a great lover of show and pomp, had hers hung with little tinkling
bells and chains of gold, so that no one to look at them could
imagine how very little of the dear gold her gracious lord and
husband had in his purse, by reason of the hardness of the times.
The adornments of the other sleighs were less costly. Upon them
came the ministers, the officials, and others pertaining to the
retinue of the three princes: _item_, the ladies-in-waiting,
and divers of the reverend clergy; last of all came the Duke's
henchman, with a pack of wolf-dogs in leash: _item,_ several
live hares and foxes; a live bear, which they purposed to let
slip, for the pleasure and pastime of their Graces. But the young
men out of the town, fifty head strong, and many of the knights,
ran along on skates, headed by Dinnies Kleist, that mighty man,
who bore in one hand the blood-banner of Pomerania, and in the
other that of Brandenburg. Barthold von Ramin ran by his side with
the Mecklenburg standard. He was a strong knight too. But ah! my
God! how my Ramin, with his ox-head, was distanced by the wild men
of Pomerania, as they ran upon the ice over the Haff! [Footnote:
The blood-standard was granted by the Emperor Maximilian II. to
Duke Johann Friedrich of Pomerania because he carried the imperial
banner during the Turkish war of 1566. It only differed from the
old banner by having a red ground--from thence its name. Both
Pomerania and Brandenburg had wild men in their escutcheon, while
Mecklenburg bore an ox's head.] Two reserve sleighs, drawn by six
Frisian horses, finished the procession; they were laden with
axes, planks, ropes, and dry garments, both for men and women.
When their Graces mounted the sleighs amidst the ringing of bells
and roaring of cannon, great was their astonishment to see their
own initials stamped into the hard ice by Dinnies Kleist, as thus:
F. U. J. E. J. F., which, however, afterwards caused much dismay
to the honest burghers, for one of them--M. Faber, _a
præceptor_--mistaking the J. for a G., read plainly upon the
ice: "Fuge, J. F."--that is, "Fly, Johann Frederick!"
Ah! truly has the gracious Prince flown from thence; but it is to
a bitter death.
During the journey, Duke Johann had much jesting with his
brother-in-law, the Elector, who was filled with wonder at the
strength of Dinnies Kleist, for he kept ahead even of the
Andalusian stallions, and waved aloft the two banners of Pomerania
and Brandenburg, while his long hair floated behind him; and
sometimes he stopped, kissed the banners, and then inclined them
to their Serene Princely Graces. Whereupon Duke Johann exclaimed,
"Ay, brother, you might well give me a thousand of your
wide-mouthed Berliners for this carl; though, methinks, if he had
his will, he would make their wide mouths still wider." At this,
his Electoral Grace looked rather vexed, and began to uphold the
men of Cologne. Upon which his Highness cut him short, saying,
"Marry, brother, you know the old proverb--
'The men of Cologne
Have no hues of their own,
But the men of Stettin
Are the true ever-green.'
For where truly could your fellows find the true green in their
sandy dust-box? Marry, cousin, one Pomerania is worth ten
Margravates; and I will show your Grace just now that my land in
winter is more productive than yours even in autumn."
His Grace here alluded to the fisheries; for along the way, for
twelve or fourteen miles, the fishermen had been ordered to set
their nets by torchlight the night before, in holes dug through
the ice, so that on the arrival of the princely party the nets
might be drawn up, and the draught exhibited to their Graces.
Now, when they entered the fresh Haff, which lay before them like
a large mirror, six miles long and four broad, his Grace of
Pomerania called out--
"See here, brother, this is my first storeroom; let us try what it
will give us to eat."
Upon which he signed to Dinnies Kleist to steer over to the first
heap of nets, which lay like a black wood in the distance. These
belonged to the Ziegenort fishermen, as the old schoolmaster,
Peter Leisticow, himself told me; and as they had taken a great
draught the day before, many people from the towns of Warp,
Stepenitz, and Uckermund were assembled there to buy up the fish,
and then retail it, as was their custom, throughout the country.
They had made a fire upon a large sheet of iron laid upon the ice,
while their horses were feeding close by upon hay, which they
shook out before them. And having taken a merry carouse together,
they all set to dancing upon the ice with the women to the
bagpipe, so that the encampment looked right jovial as their
Now when the grand train came up, the peasants roared out--
"Donnerwetter, [Note: A common oath.] look at the plötz-eaters!
See the cursed plötz-eaters! Donnerwetter, what plötz-eaters!"
[Note: Plötz-eaters was a nickname given by the Pomeranians to the
people of the Margravates. For the plötz (_Cyprinus
Exythrophthalmus_) is a very poor tasteless fish, while the
rivers of Pomerania are stocked with the very finest of all kinds.
In return, the men of the Marks called the Pomeranians
"Feather-heads," from the quantity of moor-palms (_Eriophorum
vaginatum_) which grow in their numerous rich meadows.]
And now they observed, during their shouting, that the water had
risen up to their knees; and when the ducal procession rushed up,
the abyss re-echoed with a noise like thunder, so that the foreign
princes were alarmed, but soon grew accustomed thereto. Then the
pressure of such a crowd upon the ice caused the water to spout
out of the holes to the height of a man. So that by the time they
were two bowshots from the nets, all the folk, the women and
children especially, were running, screaming, in every direction,
trying to save themselves on the firm ice, to the great amusement
of their Graces, while a peasant cried out to the sleigh drivers--
"Stop, stop! or ye'll go into the cellar!"
Hereupon his Grace of Pomerania beckoned over the Ziegenort
schoolmaster, and asked him what they had taken, to which he
"Gracious Prince, we have taken bley; the nets are all loaded;
we've taken seventy schümers, [Footnote: A schümer was a measure
which contained twelve bushels.] and your Grace ought to take one
with you for supper."
Now his Highness the Elector wished to see the nets emptied, so
they rested a space while the peasants shovelled out the fish, and
pitched them into the aforesaid schümers. But ah! woe to the
fish-thieves who had come over from Warp and other places; for the
water having risen up and become all muddy with fish-slime, they
never saw the great holes, and tumbled in, to the great amusement
of the peasants and pastime of their Graces.
How their Highnesses laughed when the poor carls in the water
tried to get hold of a net or a rope or a firm piece of ice, while
they floundered about in the water, and the peasants fished them
up with their long hooks, at the same time giving many of them a
sharp prod on the shoulder, crying out--
"Ha! will ye steal again? Take that for your pains, you robbers!"
Now when their Graces were tired laughing and looking at the fish
hauled, they prepared to depart; but the schoolmaster prayed his
Highness of Stettin yet again to take a schümer of fish for their
supper, as their Graces were going to stop for the night in
"But what could I do with all the fish?" quoth the Duke.
To which the carl answered in his jargon--
"Eh! gracious master, give them to the plotz-eaters; that will be
something new for them. Never fear but they'll eat them all up!"
Hereupon his Highness the Elector grew nettled, and cried out--
"Ho! thou damned peasant, thinkest thou we have no bley?"
"Well, ye've none here," replied the man cunningly.
So their Graces laughed, and ordered a couple of bushels of the
largest to be placed upon the safety sleigh.
Now when they had gone a little farther and found the ice as
smooth as glass, the henchman let loose the bear and the wolf-dogs
after it. My stout Bruin first growls and paws the ice, then sets
himself in earnest for the race, and, on account of his sharp
claws, ran on straight for Uckermund without ever slipping, while
the hounds fell down on all sides, or tumbled on their backs,
howling with rage and disappointment.
Yet more pleasant was the hare-hunt, for hounds and hares both
tumbled down together, and the hares squeaked and the hounds
yelped; some hares indeed were killed, but only after infinite
trouble, while others ran away after the bear.
After the hunt they came to another fishery, and so on till they
reached Uckermund, passing six fisheries in succession, whereof
each draught was as large as the first, so that his Grace the
Elector marvelled much at the abundance, and seeing the nets full
of zannats at the last halting-place, cried out--
"Marry, brother, your storeroom is well furnished. I might grow
dainty here myself. Let us take a bushel of these along with us
for supper, for zannat is the fish for me!"
This greatly rejoiced his Grace of Stettin, who ordered the fish
to be laid on the sumpter sleigh, and in good time they reached
the ducal house at Uckermund, Dinnies Kleist still keeping
foremost, and waving his two banners over his head, while Barthold
Barnim and the other skaters hung weary and tired upon the backs
of the sleighs.
_How Sidonia meets their Graces upon the ice--Item, how Dinnies
Kleist beheads himself, and my gracious lord of Wolgast perishes
The next morning early the whole train set off from Uckermund in
the highest spirits, passing net after net, till the Duke of
Mecklenburg, as well as the Elector, lifted their hands in
astonishment. From the Haff they entered the Pene, and from that
the Achterwasser. [Footnote: A large bay formed by the Pene.] Here
a great crowd of people stood upon the ice, for the town of
Quilitz lay quite near; besides, more fish had been taken here
than had yet been seen upon the journey, so that people from
Wolgast, Usdom, Lassahn, and all the neighbouring towns had run
together to bid for it. But what happened?
Alas! that his Grace should have desired to halt, for scarcely had
his sleigh stopped, when a little old woman, meanly clad, with
fisher's boots, and a net filled with bley-fish in her hand,
stepped up to it and said--
"My good Lord, I am Sidonia von Bork; wherefore have you not
replied to my demand for the _proebenda_ of Barbara von
Kleist in Marienfliess?"
"How could he answer her? He knew nothing at all of her mode of
living, or where she dwelt."
_Illa._--"She had bid him lay the answer upon the altar of
St. Jacob's in Stettin. Why had he not done so?"
"That was no place for such letters, only for the words of the
Holy Spirit and the Blessed Sacrament of his Saviour; therefore,
let her say now where she dwelt."
_Illa._--"The richest maiden in Pomerania could ill say where
the poorest now dwelt," weeping.
"The richest maiden had only herself to blame if she were now the
poorest; better had she wept before. The _proebenda_ she
could never have; let her cease to think of it; but here was an
alms, and she might now go her ways."
_Illa_.--(Refuses to take it, and murmurs.) "Your Grace will
soon have bitter sorrow for this."
As she so menaced and spat out three times, the thing angered
Dinnies Kleist (who held her in abhorrence ever since the
adventure in the Uckermund forest), and as he had lost none of his
early strength, he hit her a blow with the blood-standard over the
shoulder, exclaiming, "Pack off to the devil, thou shameless hag!
What does the witch mean by her spittings? The _proebenda_ of
my sister Barbara shall thou never have!"
However, the hag stirred not from the spot, answered no word, but
spat out again; and as the illustrious party drove off she still
stood there, and spat out after them.
What this devil's sorcery denoted we shall soon see; for as they
approached Ziemitze, and the ducal house of Wolgast appeared in
sight, Dinnies Kleist started on before the safety sleigh; and as
soon as the high towers of the castle rose above the trees, he
waved the two banners above his head, and brought them together
till they kissed. Having so held them for a space, he set forward
again with giant strides, in order to be the first to
arrive--although, indeed, the town was aware of the advance of the
princely train, for the bells were ringing, and the blood-standard
waved from St. Peter's and the three other towers.
But woe, alas! Dinnies, in his impatience, never observed a
windwake direct in his path, and down he sank, while the sharp ice
cut his head clean off, as if an executioner had done it; and the
head, with the long hair, rolled hither and thither, while the
body remained fast in the hole, only one arm stuck up above the
ice--it was that which held the Brandenburg standard, but the
blood-banner of Pomerania had sunk for ever in the abyss.
[Footnote: A windwake is a hole formed by the wind in the thawing
season, and which afterwards becomes covered with a thin coating
of ice by a subsequent frost.]
When his Grace of Stettin beheld this, he was filled with more
sorrow than even at the death of his fool; and, weeping bitterly,
commanded seven sleighs to return and seize the evil hag; then
with all speed, and for a terrible example, to burn her upon the
But when many present assured his Grace that such-like accidents
were very common, and many skaters had perished thus, whereof even
Duke Ulrich named several instances, so that his Grace of Stettin
need not impute such natural accidents to witchcraft or the power
of the hag, he was somewhat calmed. Still he commanded the seven
sleighs to return and bring the witch bound to Wolgast, that he
might question her as to wherefore she had spat out.
So the sleighs returned, but the vile sorceress was no longer on
the ice, neither did any one know whither she had gone; whereupon
the sleighs hastened back again after the others.
Now it was the Friday before Shrove Tuesday, about mid-day, when
the princely party arrived at Wolgast; and Prince Bogislaff of
Barth was there to receive them, with his five sons--namely,
Philip, Franz, George, Ulrich, and Bogislaff. [Footnote: Marginal
note of Duke Bogislaff XIV.--"This is not true; for I had a fever
at the time, and remained at home."] And there was a great uproar
in the castle--some of the young lords playing ball in the castle
court with the young Prince, Philip Julius, others preparing for
the carnival mummeries, which were to commence next evening by a
great banquet and dance in the hall. Indeed, that same evening
their Graces had a brave carouse, to try and make Duke Johann
forget his grief about his well-beloved Dinnies Kleist: and his
Grace thus began to discourse concerning him:--
"Truly, brothers, who knows what the devil may have in store for
us? for it was a strange thing how my blood-standard sunk in the
abyss, while that of my brother of Brandenburg floated above it.
Think you that our male line will become extinct, and the heritage
of fair Pomerania descend to Brandenburg? For, in truth, it is
strange that, out of five brothers, two of us only have
heirs--Bogislaff and Ernest Ludovicus, who has left indeed but one
Then Duke Bogislaff (whom our Lord God had surely blessed for his
humility in resigning the government, and also because of his
dutiful conduct ever towards his mother, even in his youth having
brought her a tame seagull) made answer, laughingly: "Dear
brother, I think Herr Bacchus has done more to turn Frau Venus
against our race than Sidonia or any of her spells, therefore ye
need not wonder if ye have no heirs. However, if my five young
Princes listen to my warnings and shun the wine-cup, trust me the
blood-standard will be lifted up again, and our ancient name never
want a fitting representative."
Meanwhile, as they so discoursed, and the gracious ladies looked
down for shame upon the ground, young Lord Philip began a Latin
argument with the Rev. Dr. Glambecken, court chaplain at Wolgast
_de monetis;_ and pulled out of his pocket a large bag of old
coins, which had been presented to him by Doctor Chytraeus,
professor of theology at Rostock, with whom his Grace interchanged
Latin epistles. [Foonote: See the Latin letters of the talented
young Prince in Oelrich's "Contributions to the Literary History
of the Pomeranian Dukes," vol. i. p. 67. He fell a victim to
intemperance, though his death was imputed likewise to Sidonia,
and formed the subject of the sixth torture examination.]
This gave the conversation a new turn, and the ladies particularly
were much pleased examining the coins; but the devil himself
surely must have anagrammatised one of them, for over the letters,
Pomerania, figures were scratched 356412789
--thus--Pomerania--giving the terrible meaning, _rape omnia_
(rob all); and many said that this must have been the very coin
which the devil took that time he rent the oblation-table, at the
exorcism of the young Princess.
This discovery filled the Pomeranian Duke with strong
apprehensions, and young Prince Franz handed over the coin to the
Elector of Brandenburg, saying bitterly, "Yes, rob all! Doctor
Joel of Grypswald has long since told me that it would all end
this way--even as Satan himself has scratched down here--but my
lord father will not credit him, he is so proud of his five sons.
Doctor Joel, however, is a right learned man, and no one knows the
mysteries of the black art better; besides, who reads the stars
more diligently each night than he?"
And behold, while he is speaking, the fool runs into the hall,
pale, and trembling in every limb.
"Alas! Lord Franz," he exclaimed, "I have seen the manikin again
on his three-legged hare, which appeared at the death of Duke
But the young lord boxed him, crying, "Away, thou knave! must thy
chatter help to make us more melancholy?"
However Duke Bogislaff bid the fool stay, and tell them when and
where he had seen the imp.
My fool wiped his eyes, and began: "The young Lord Franz had bid
him put on his best jacket (that which had been given him as a
Christmas-box) for the carnival mummings on Shrove Tuesday; so he
went up to the garret to get it himself out of the trunk, but,
before he had quite reached the trunk, the black dwarf, with his
little red boots, rode out from behind it on his three-legged
hare--hop! hop! hop!--made a frightful face at him, and after a
little while rode back again--hop! hop! hop! behind his old boots,
which stood in a corner, and disappeared!"
What the malicious Puck denoted we shall soon see--Oh, woe! woe!
Next day all sorts of amusements were set on foot, to chase away
gloomy thoughts out of the hearts of the illustrious guests--such
as tilting with lances, dancing upon stilts, wrestling,
rope-dancing. _Item,_ pickleherring and harlequins. Amongst
these last the fool showed off to great advantage, for who could
twist his face into more laughable grimaces? _Item,_ in the
evening there was a mask of mummers, in which one fellow played
the angel, and another dressed as Satan, with a large horse's foot
and cock's plume, spat red fire from his mouth, and roared
horribly when the angel overcame him (but withal I think the
gloomy thoughts stayed there yet).
And mark what in truth soon happened! When the drums and trumpets
struck up the last mask dance in the great Ritter Hall, which
every one joins in, old and young, his Grace, Duke Johann, went to
the room of his dear cousin Hedwig, the princely widow, and prayed
her to tread the dance with him; but she refuses, and sits by the
fire and weeps.
"Let not my dear cousin fret," said the Duke, "about the chatter
of the fool."
To which she replied, "Alas! wherefore not? For surely it betokens
death to my darling little son, Philip Julius."
"No," exclaimed the Duke quickly, "it betokens mine!" and he fell
flat upon the ground.
One can easily imagine how the gracious lady screamed, so that all
ran in from the Knight's Hall in their masks and mumming-dresses,
to see indeed the mumming of the true bodily Satan; and Doctor
Pomius, who was at the mask likewise, ran in with a
smelling-bottle, but all was in vain. His Grace lingered for three
days, and then having received the Holy Sacrament from Doctor
Glambecken, died in the same chamber in which he was born, having
lived fifty-seven years, five months, twelve days, and fourteen
hours. How can I describe the lamentations of the princely
company--yea, indeed, of the whole town; for every one saw now
plainly that the anger of God rested upon this ancient and
illustrious Pomeranian race, and that He had given it over
helplessly to the power of the evil one.
_Summa._--On the 9th February the princely corse was laid in
the very sleigh which had brought it a living body, and, followed
by a grand train of princes, nobles, and knights, along with a
strong guard of the ducal soldatesca, was conveyed back to
Stettin; and there, with all due and befitting ceremonies, was
buried on Palm Sunday in the vault of the castle church.
_How Barnim the Tenth succeeds to the government, and how
Sidonia meets him as she is gathering bilberries. Item, of the
unnatural witch-storm at his Grace's funeral, and how Duke Casimir
refuses, in consequence, to succeed him._
Now Barnim the Tenth succeeded to that very duchy about which he
had been so wroth the day of the Diet at Wollin, but it brought
him little good. He was, however, a pious Prince, and much beloved
at his dower of Rügenwald, where he spent his time in making a
little library of all the Lutheran hymn-books which he could
collect, and these he carried with him in his carriage wherever he
went; so that his subjects of Rügenwald shed many tears at losing
so pious a ruler.
_Item,_ the moment his Grace succeeded to the government, he
caused all the courts to be reopened, along with the treasury and
the chancery, which his deceased Grace had kept closed to the
last; and for this goodness towards his people, the states of the
kingdom promised to pay all his debts, which was done; and thus
lawlessness and robbery were crushed in the land.
But woe, alas!--Sidonia can no man crush! She wrote immediately to
his Grace, soliciting the _proebenda,_ and even presented
herself at the ducal house of Stettin; but his Grace positively
refused to lay eyes on her, knowing how fatal a meeting with her
had proved to each of his brothers, who no sooner met her evil
glance than they sickened and died.
Therefore his Highness held all old women in abhorrence. Indeed,
such was his fear of them, that not one was allowed to approach
the castle; and when he rode or drove out, lacqueys and squires
went before with great horsewhips, to chase away all the old women
out of his Grace's path, for truly Sidonia might be amongst them.
From this, it came to pass that as soon as it was rumoured in the
town, "His Grace is coming," all the old mothers seized up their
pattens, and scampered off, helter-skelter, to get out of reach of
But who can provide against all the arts of the devil? for though
it is true that Sidonia destroyed his two brothers, also his Grace
himself, along with Philip II., by her breath and glance, yet she
caused a great number of other unfortunate persons to perish,
without using these means, as we shall hear further on; whereby
many imagined that her familiar Chim could not have been so weak a
spirit as she represented him, on the rack, in order to save her
life, but a strong and terrible demon. These things, however, will
come in their proper place.
_Summa._--After Duke Barnim had reigned several years, with
great blessing to his people, it happened that word came from
Rügenwald how that his brother, Duke Casimir, was sick. This was
the Prince whom, we may remember, Sidonia had whipped with her
irreverent hands upon his princely _podex,_ when he was a
Now Duke Barnim had quarrelled with the estates because they
refused funds for the Turkish war; however, he became somewhat
merrier that evening with the Count Stephen of Naugard, when the
evil tidings came to him of his beloved brother (yet more bitter
sorrow is before him, I think). So the next morning the Duke set
off with a train of six carriages to visit his sick brother, and
by the third evening they reached the wood which lies close beside
Rügenwald. Here there was a large oak, the stem of which had often
served his Grace for a target, when he amused himself by
practising firing. So he stopped the carriage, and alighted to see
if the twenty or thirty balls he had shot into it were still
But alas! as he reached the oak, that devil's spectre (I mean
Sidonia) stepped from behind it; she had an old pot in her hand
filled with bilberries, and asked his Grace, would he not take
some to refresh himself after his journey.
His Highness, however, recoiled horror-struck, and asked who she
She was Sidonia von Bork, and prayed his Grace yet once more for
the _proebenda_ in Marienfliess.
Hereat the Duke was still more horrified, and exclaimed, "Curse
upon thy _proebenda,_ but thou shalt get something else, I
warrant thee! Thou art a vile witch, and hast in thy mind to
destroy our whole noble race with thy detestable sorceries."
_Illa._--"Alas! no one had called her a witch before; how
could she bewitch them? It was a strange story to tell of her."
_The Duke._--"How did it happen, then, that he had no
children by his beloved Amrick?" [Footnote: Anna Maria, second
daughter of John George, Elector of Brandenburg.]
_Illa_ (laughing).--"He better ask his beloved Amrick
herself. How could she know?"
But here she began to contort her face horribly, and to spit out,
whereupon the Duke called out to his retinue--"Come here, and hang
me this hag upon the oak-tree; she is at her devil's sorceries
again! And woe! woe! already I feel strange pains all through my
Upon this, divers persons sprang forward to seize her, but the
nimble night-bird darted behind a clump of fir-trees, and
disappeared. Unluckily they had no bloodhounds along with them,
otherwise I think the devil would have been easily seized, and
hung up like an acorn on the oak-tree. But God did not so will it,
for though they sent a pack of hounds from Rügenwald, the moment
they arrived there, yet no trace of the hag could be found in the
And now mark the result: the Duke became worse hour by hour, and
as Duke Casimir had grown much better by the time he arrived, and
was in a fair way of recovery, his Grace resolved to take leave of
him and return with all speed to his own house at Stettin; but on
the second day, while they were still a mile from Stettin, Duke
Barnim grew so much worse, that they had to stop at Alt-Damm for
the night. And scarcely had he laid himself down in bed when he
expired. This was on the 1st of September 1603, when he was
fifty-four years, six months, sixteen days, and sixteen hours old.
But the old, unclean night-bird would not let his blessed Highness
go to his grave in peace (probably because he had called her an
accursed witch). For the 18th of the same month, when all the
nobles and estates were assembled to witness the ceremonial of
interment, along with several members of the ducal house, and
other illustrious personages, such a storm of hail, rain, and
wind, came on just at a quarter to three, as they had reached the
middle of the service, that the priest dropped the book from his
hands, and the church became so suddenly dark, that the sexton had
to light the candles to enable the preacher to read his text.
Never, too, was heard such thunder, so that many thought St.
Jacob's Tower had fallen in, and the princes and nobles rushed out
of the church to shelter themselves in the houses, while the most
terrific lightning flashed round them at every step.
Yet truly it must have been all witch-work, for when the funeral
was over, the weather became as serene and beautiful as possible.
And a great gloom fell upon every one in consequence, for that it
was no natural storm, a child could have seen. Indeed, Dr. Joel,
who was wise in these matters, declared to his Highness Duke
Bogislaff XIII. that without doubt it was a witch-storm, for the
doctor was present at the funeral, as representative of the
University of Grypswald. And respecting the clouds, he observed
particularly that they were formed like dogs' tails, that is, when
a dog carries his tail in the air so that it forms an arc of a
circle. And this, indeed, was the truth.
_Summa._--As by the death of Duke Barnim the government
devolved upon Duke Casimir of Rügenwald, the estates proceeded
thither to offer him their homage, but the Prince hesitated, said
he was sickly, and who could tell whether it would not go as ill
with him as with his brothers? But the estates, both temporal and
spiritual, prayed him so earnestly to accept the rule, that he
promised to meet them on the next morning by ten of the clock, in
the great Rittersaal (knights' hall), and make them acquainted
with his decision.
The faithful states considered this a favourable answer, and were
in waiting next morning, at the appointed hour, in the Rittersaal.
But what happened? Behold, as the great door was thrown open, in
walked the Duke, not with any of the insignia of his princely
station, but in the dress of a fisherman. He wore a linen jacket,
a blue smock, a large hat, and great, high fisher's boots,
reaching nearly to his waist. _Item,_ on his back the Duke
carried a fisherman's basket; six fishermen similarly dressed
accompanied him, and others in a like garb followed.
All present wondered much at this, and a great murmur arose in the
hall; but the Duke threw his basket down by his side, and leaned
his elbow on it, while he thus went on to speak: "Ye see here, my
good friends, what government I intend to hold in future with
these honest fishers, who accompanied me up to my dear brother's
funeral. I shall return this day to Rügenwald. The devil may rule
in Pomerania, but I will not; if you kill an ox there is an end of
it, but here there is no end. Satan treats us worse than the poor
ox. Choose a duke wheresoever you will; but as for me, I think
fishing and ruling the rudder is pleasanter work than to rule your
And when the unambitious Prince had so spoken, he drew forth a
little flask containing branntwein [Footnote: Whisky] (a new drink
which some esteemed more excellent than wine, which, however, I
leave in its old pre-eminence; I tasted the other indeed but once,
but it seemed to me to set my mouth on fire--such is not for my
drinking), and drank to the fishers, crying, "What say you,
children--shall we not go and flounder again upon the Rügenwald
strand?" Upon which they all shouted, "Ay! ay!"
His Grace then drank to the states for a farewell, and leaving the
hall, proceeded with his followers to the vessel, which he
ascended, singing gaily, and sailed home directly to his new
fishing-lodge at Neuhausen.
Such humility, however, availed his Grace nothing in preserving
him from the claws of Satan; for scarcely a year and a half had
elapsed when he was seized suddenly, even as his brothers, and
died on the 10th May 1605, at the early age of forty-eight years,
one month, twenty-one days, and seventeen hours.
But to return to the states. They were dumb with grief and despair
when his Grace left the hall. The land marshal stood with the
staff, the court marshal with the sword, and the chancellor with
the seals, like stone statues there, till a noble at the window
"Let us hasten quickly to Prince Bogislaff, before he journeys
off, too, with his five sons, and we are left without any ruler.
See, there are the horses just putting to his carriage!"
Upon this, they all ran out to the coach, and the chancellor
asked, in a lamentable voice, "If his Grace were indeed going to
leave them, like that other gracious Prince who owned the dukedom
by right? The states would promise everything he desired--they
would pay all his debts--only his Grace must not leave them and
their poor fatherland in their sore need."
Hereat his Grace laughed, and told them, "He was not going to his
castle of Franzburg, only as far as Oderkrug, with his dear sons,
to look at the great sheep-pens there, and drink a bowl of ewe's
milk with the shepherds under the apple-tree. He hoped to arrive
there before his brother Casimir in his boat, and then they might
discuss the _casus_ together; indeed, when he showed him the
sheep-pens, it was not probable that he would refuse a duchy which
had a fold of twenty thousand sheep, for his brother Casimir was a
great lover of sheep as well as of fish."
Upon this, the states and privy council declared that they would
follow him to Oderkrug to learn the result, but meanwhile begged
of his Grace not to delay setting off, lest Duke Casimir might
have left Oderkrug before he reached it.
Duke Bogislaff XIII. accepts the government of the duchy, and
gives Sidonia at last the long-desired
_proebenda_--_Item,_ of her arrival at the convent of
Now my gracious Lord Bogislaff had scarcely alighted at Oderkrug
from his carriage, and drunk a bowl of milk under the apple-tree,
when he spied the yellow sails of his brother's boat above the
high reeds; upon which he ran down to the shore, and called out
"Will you not land, brother, and drink a bowl of ewe's milk with
us, or take a glance at the great sheep-pen? It is a rare wonder,
and my lord brother was always a great lover of sheep!"
But Prince Casimir went on, and never slackened sail. Whereupon
his Highness called out again, "The states and privy councillors
are coming, brother, and want to have a few words with you."
Hereat Prince Casimir laughed in the boat, and returned for
answer--"He knew well enough what they wanted; but no--he had no
desire to be bewitched to death. Just give him the lands of
Lauenburg and Butow as an addition to his dower, and then his dear
Bogislaff might take all Pomerania to himself if he pleased."
After which, doffing his hat for an _addio,_ he steered
bravely through the _Pappenwasser_.
When young Prince Franz heard this, he laughed loud, and said,
"Truly our uncle is the wisest--he will not be bewitched to death,
as he says--but what will my lord father do now, for see, here
come the states already in their carriages over the hill!"
Duke Bogislaff answered, "What else remains for me to do but to
accept the government?"
_Ille._--"Yes, and be struck dead by witchcraft, like my
three uncles! Ah, my gracious lord father, before ever you accept
the rule of the duchy, let the witch be seized and burned. Doctor
Joel hath told me much about these witches; and believe me, there
is no wiser man in all Pomerania than this magister. He can do
something more than eat bread." Then he fell upon his father's
neck, and caressed him--"Ah, dear father, do not jump at once into
the government; burn the witch first: we cannot spare our dear
And the two young Princes George and Ulrich prayed him in like
manner; but young Philip Secundus spake--"I think, brothers, it
were better if our dear father gave this long-talked-of
_proebenda_ to the witch at once; then, whether she bewitches
or not, we are safe at all events."
Hereupon his Highness answered--"My Philip is right; for in truth
no one can say whether your uncles died by Sidonia's sorceries or
by those of the evil man Bacchus. Therefore I warn you, dear
children, flee from this worst of all sorcerers; not starting at
appearances, as a horse at a shadow, for appearance is the shadow
of truth. Be admonished, therefore, by St. Peter, and 'gird up the
loins of your spirit: be sober, and watch unto prayer.' Then ye
may laugh all witches to scorn; for God will turn the devices of
your enemy to folly."
Meanwhile the states have arrived; and having alighted from their
coaches at the great sheep-pen, they advanced respectfully to the
Duke, who was seated under the apple-tree--the land marshal first,
with the staff, then the court marshal with the sword, and lastly
the chancellor with the seals.
The had seen from the hill how Duke Casimir sailed away without
waiting to hear them, and prayed and hoped that his Highness would
accept the insignia which they here respectfully tendered, and not
abandon his poor fatherland in such dire need. The devil and
wicked men could do much, but God could do more, as none knew
better than his Highness.
Herewith his Grace sighed deeply, and taking the insignia, laid
staff and sword beside him; then, taking up the sword hastily
again, he held it in his hand while he thus spake:--
"My faithful, true, and honourable states, ye know how that I
resigned the government, out of free will, at the Diet at Wollin,
because I thought, and still think, that nothing weighs heavier
than this sword which I hold in my hand. Therefore I went to my
dower at Barth, and have founded the beautiful little town of
Franzburg to keep the Stralsund knaves in submission, and also to
teach our nobles that there is some nobler work for a man to do in
life than eating, drinking, and hunting. _Item,_ I have
encouraged commerce, and especially given my protection to the
woollen trade; but all my labours will now fall to the ground, and
the Stralsund knaves be overjoyed; [Footnote: The apprehension was
justified by the event; for on the departure of Duke Bogislaff,
Franzburg fell rapidly to a mere village, to the great joy of the
Stralsunders, who looked with much envy on a new town springing up
in their vicinity.] however, I must obey God's will, and not kick
against the pricks. Therefore I take the sword of my father,
hoping that it will not prove too heavy for me, an old man;
[Footnote: The Duke was then sixty.] and that He who puts it into
my hand (even the strong God) will help me to bear it. So let His
holy will be done. Amen."
Then his Highness delivered back the insignia to the states, who
reverently kissed his hand, and blessed God for having given so
good and pious a Prince to reign over them. Then they approached
the five young lords, and kissed their hands likewise, wishing at
the same time that many fair olive-branches might yet stand around
their table. This made the old Duke laugh heartily, and he prayed
the states to remain a little and drink ewe's milk with them for a
pleasant pastime; the shepherds would set out the bowls.
Duke Philip alone went away into the town to examine the library,
and all the vases, pictures, statues, and other costly works of
art, which his deceased uncle, Duke Johann Frederick, had
collected; and these he delivered over to the marshal's care, with
strict injunctions as to their preservation. But a strange thing
happened next day; for as the Duke and his sons were sitting at
breakfast, and the wine-can had just been locked up, because each
young lord had drunk his allotted portion, namely, seven glasses
(the Duke himself only drank six), a lacquey entered with a note
from Sidonia, in which she again demanded the _proebenda,_
and hoped that his Highness would be more merciful that his dead
brothers, now that he had succeeded to the duchy. Let him
therefore send an order for her admission to the cloister of
Marienfliess. The answer was to be laid upon St. Mary's altar.
Here young Lord Francis grew quite pale, and dropped the fork from
his hands, then spake--"Now truly we see this hag learns of the
devil, for how else could she have known that our gracious father
had accepted the government, unless Satan had visited her in her
den? But let his dearest father be careful. In his opinion, the
Duke should promise her the _proebenda;_ but as soon as the
accursed hag showed herself at the cloister (for the devil now
kept her concealed), let her be seized and burned publicly, for a
terrible warning and example."
This advice did not please the old Duke. "Franz," he said, "thou
art a fool, and God forbid that ever thou shouldst reign in the
land; for know that the word of a Prince is sacred. Yes, Sidonia
shall have the _proebenda;_ but I will not entrap my enemy
through deceit to death, but will try to win her over by
gentleness. The chancellor shall answer her instantly, and write
another letter to the abbess of Petersdorf; and Sidonia's shall be
laid upon the altar of St. Mary's this night, as she requested, by
one of my lacqueys."
Then Duke Philip kissed his pious father's hand, and the tears
fell from the good youth's eyes as he exclaimed--
"Alas, if she should murder you too!"
And here are the two letters, according to the copies which are
yet to be seen in the princely chancery. _Sub. Hit. Marienfliess
K, No. 683._
"WE, BOGISLAFF, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, DUKE OF STETTIN, POMERANIA,
CASSUBEN, AND WENDEN; PRINCE OF RUGEN; COUNT OF CUTZKOW, OF THE
LANDS OP LAUENBURG AND BUTOW; LORD, &c.
"In consequence of your repeated entreaties for a _proetenda_
in the cloister of Marienfliess, We, of our great goodness, hereby
grant the same unto you; hoping that, in future, you will lead an
humble, quiet life, as beseems a cloistered maiden, and, in
especial, that you will always show yourself an obedient and
faithful servant of our princely house. So we commit you to God's
Signatum, Old Stettin, the 2oth October 1603. "BOGISLAFF."
The other letter, to the abbess of Petersdorf, was sent by a
salmon lad to the convent, as we shall hear further on, and ran
"WE, BOGISLAFF, &c.
"WORTHY ABBESS, TRUSTY AND WELL-BELOVED FRIEND!
"Hereby we send to you a noble damsel, named Sidonia von Bork, and
desire a cell for her in your cloisters, even as the other nuns.
We trust that misery may have softened her heart towards God; but
if she do not demean herself with Christian sobriety, you have our
commands to send her, along with the fish peasants and others, to
our court for judgment.
"God keep you; pray for us! Signatum, &c. "BOGISLAFF."
The letter to Sidonia was, in truth, laid that same night upon the
altar of St. Mary's, by a lacquey, who was further desired to hide
himself in the church, and see what became of it. Now, the fellow
had a horrible dread of staying alone in the church by night, so
he took the cook, Jeremias Bild, along with him; and after they
had laid the letter down upon the altar, they crept both of them
into a high pew close by, belonging to the Aulick Counsellor,
Now mark what happened. They had been there about an hour, and the
moon was pouring down as clear as daylight from the high altar
window; when, all at once, the letter upon the altar began to move
about of itself, as if it were alive, then it hopped down upon the
floor, from that danced down the altar steps, and so on all along
the nave, though no human being laid hands on it the while, and
not a breath or stir was heard in the church. [Footnote: Something
similar is related in the _Seherin of Prevorst_, where a
glass of water moved of its own accord to another place.]
Our two carls nearly died of the fright, and solemnly attested by
oath to his Highness the truth of their relation. Thereby young
Lord Franz was more strengthened in his belief concerning
Sidonia's witchcraft, and had many arguments with his father in
"His lord father might easily know that a letter could not move of
itself without devil's magic. Now, this letter had moved of
itself; _ergo_," &c.
Whereupon his Highness answered--
"When had he ever doubted the power of Satan? Ah, never; but in
this instance who could tell what the carls in their fright had
seen or not seen? For, perhaps, Sidonia, when she observed them
hiding in the pew, had stuck a fish-hook into the letter, and so
drawn it over to herself. He remembered in his youth a trick that
had been played on the patron--for this patron always went to
sleep during the sermon. So the sexton let down a fish-hook
through the ceiling of the church, which, catching hold of the
patron's wig, drew it up in the sight of the whole congregation,
who afterwards swore that they had seen the said wig of their
patron carried up to the roof of the church by witchcraft, and
disappear through a hole in the ceiling, as if it had been a bird.
Some time after, however, the sexton confessed his knavery, and